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What: Shares of ON Semiconductor (UNKNOWN:ONNN.DL) finished Friday with a gain of roughly 11% after the semiconductor component specialist reported better-than-expected results for its fiscal fourth quarter on Thursday evening.
So what: ON's revenue came in at $864.2 million for the quarter, and its adjusted earnings were $0.17 per share. Both results edged out Wall Street's expectations for $856.1 million on the top line and $0.16 in EPS. The results may have topped Wall Street, but they were a mixed bag when compared to ON's year-ago quarter -- the company's top line improved by a mere 3.7% year over year, and its EPS actually fell by 15% from last year's result.
However, full-year results of $3.16 billion in revenue and $0.75 in adjusted EPS represented improvements of 13.6% and 41.5%, respectively, over 2013's results. These full-year results also narrowly beat Wall Street's projections, which had called for $3.15 billion in revenue and $0.74 in EPS.
Looking ahead, ON now expects its revenue for the first quarter of 2015 to range from $840 million to $880 million, which will produce gross margins ranging from 33.4% to 35.4%. Based on the other guidance in ON's report, it appears that the company expects its first-quarter adjusted EPS to range from $0.12 to $0.23. ON's first-quarter top-line guidance is quite a bit better than Wall Street's revenue projections of $843.6 million, but the rough guidance offered for its profitability metrics merely hits the $0.17 EPS consensus in the middle.
Now what: This was undoubtedly a good report, and ON's full-year revenue brings it to within 5% of its all-time best top line, which it reached during the 2011 fiscal year. However, the company continues to have difficulty improving its EPS, which has slowly yo-yoed into narrower and narrower bands during the past decade. That makes it somewhat hard to justify ON's 26.5 P/E, and the company won't report its latest cash flow figures until it publishes its official 10-K report in the coming days. If those cash flow numbers remain as good as they have been -- ON's price-to-free-cash-flow ratio was just 17.1 -- ON might be worth a closer look.
Alex Planes has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.